Optimal vs Good enough – how far apart?

The Netflix Tech Blog has this very interesting piece which is very insightful: http://techblog.netflix.com/2011/01/how-we-determine-product-success.html.   In particular, this point is very important although easily and often very voluntarily ignored by so many researchers: There is a big lesson we’ve learned here, which is that the ideal execution of an idea can be twice as effective as […]

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Angluin’s ‘proof techniques’

I came across this while looking for some other information today. It is a humbling list in that escaping all these traps all of the time really does require discipline (I interpret ‘proof’ not just as mathematical reasoning but any scientific argument, including experimental work): http://www.cs.northwestern.edu/~riesbeck/proofs.html Advertisements

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Game theoretic models of behaviour

This article in latest issue of The Economist is an interesting summary of what has come to be possible using computational tools based on game theory. Although I was already aware of some of the famous examples such as FTC spectrum auctions, I am impressed by the suggestion that these tools are finally breaking out […]

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Defining the Question

Different researchers have different ways of coming up with questions that drive their work, especially the big defining themes that organize the many little projects. For AI researchers, a popular approach is to think about various aspects of intelligence, as exhibited in the natural world, and to ask how they want to explain, understand, recreate […]

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What does Polymath tell us about problem solving?

Gowers and Nielsen have written a nice opinion piece (Nature 461, 879-881, 15 October 2009) on The Polymath Project, an open-source and collaborative attempt at solving an unsolved math problem – to find a new proof of a result in ergodic theory called the density Hales-Jewett theorem using only ‘elementary’ building blocks. The protocol for […]

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Simon on Discovery

“For a variety of reasons, perhaps best understood by psychoanalysis, when we talk or write about scientific discovery, we tend to dwell lovingly on great events – Galileo and uniform acceleration, Newton and universal gravitation, Einstein and relativity. We insist that a theory of discovery postulate proceses sufficiently powerful to produce these events. It is […]

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